The Frederick Douglass softball team didn't garner much outside hype during the regular season, but it's having the last laugh now.
Third-seeded Douglass upset Bryan Station, 12-4, in the semifinals of the 42nd District softball tournament Tuesday at Henry Clay. That afforded the Broncos a finals matchup with 12-time defending champion Scott County and an automatic berth to the 11th Region Tournament next week on their home field.
It is the first program at Douglass to qualify for a region tournament. The Broncos (9-16) won just eight games in the regular season and had lost nine of their last 10 entering the postseason but were able to come together in a way they hadn't all season to extend the athletics season for Lexington's newest high school by at least one more week.
"We talked all season about attitude and effort," said Brian Foley, who coached at Madison Southern before taking the Douglass job. "There were times throughout the season that we felt like our attitude wasn't right and our effort wasn't there."
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Douglass lacked in neither category on Tuesday. After two scoreless innings the Broncos put three runs on the board in the top of the third and added another in the top of the fourth. Bryan Station answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth but Douglass bounced back with four runs each in the fifth and sixth frames to build a lead that proved insurmountable.
Alexis Menifee threw a complete game, capping it off with her fifth strikeout of the evening. She received run and defensive support from every spot in the lineup, a sign of growth for the Broncos.
"Throughout the season I feel like some of us played for ourselves," Menifee said. "Today we came out and played for each other and we played for 'Six.'"
'Six' is freshman Kasia Parks, who tore her ACL a couple weeks ago in P.E. class after having recovered from a similar knee injury the year before. She was a big part of the Broncos' small-ball attack, Foley said, and her absence has forced other girls to do things they're not used to doing.
"I think tonight when I asked Abby Vires to bunt, my number four hitter, I don't think anybody in the park believed she was gonna do that," Foley said with a grin.
Vires, Katlyn Robinson and Courtney Thomas comprise the Broncos' trio of seniors. Otherwise it's predominantly a youth movement off Winchester Road: seven of the 15 varsity players are sophomores or younger (four are freshman and one's a seventh grader).
Foley was excited that his girls locked in when it mattered most and hoped they could retain that focus in the finals on Wednesday. Dethroning Scott County — a two-time state champion that's among the favorites to win it all this season — will be a monumental task.
"They're not the number one team in the state for nothing," Foley said. "They're a very good ball team. It's gonna take everything, a complete game from all of our girls to be competitive."